Home Thoughts From Abroad

I exist slightly out of kilter with most of you. I’m a UK based Chiefs fan and everything important tends to happen at strange times for me. During the season we get a weekly one-hour NFL highlights show with Jason Bell and Osi Umenyiora.

That show starts around midnight and if we’re really lucky they will do more than five minutes of Chiefs coverage. We get the Super Bowl and the games that are played in London live. You can get most games live-streamed for a subscription but some nights I go nostalgic and stream radio commentary. The thing is, England is six hours ahead of Missouri and with most games being on a Sunday, it is always a late night for me with work in the morning. It’s worth it, though.

This all started around 1990 when a friend at rugby (think more tackling, more passing, and fewer pads) talked me into playing tight end in the lower UK beer leagues. There was an inevitable Super Bowl XXIV party. It was the 49ers against the Broncos and there I was, drinking Bud, eating chips, taking turns playing John Madden American Football 1990 on a Sega then watching Joe Montana and Jerry Rice dismantle the Broncos. It was a thing of beauty.

When Joe was traded to the Chiefs in 1993 I went with him. I’ve been here ever since. Since then, on every Super Bowl night, I try to book the next day off work. The alternative is maybe turning up to work on two hours of sleep. I’ve done that. It was no fun. I kept an eye out for Chiefs results and I watched an awful lot of YouTube.

Over the years I wondered if I would ever get to see our team at the big one. Divisional Championships, sure and that was great but we specialized in never quite making it all the way. What did I know?

Let me take you forward a little. It is approaching midnight on the 2nd February 2020. I have definitely taken the next day off work because this is going to run late. Super Bowl LIV is about to kick off and I am not at all nervous.

Sure, the 49ers are a better team than their QB but the Chiefs have had a good season and the playoffs have been a magic carpet ride. I watched the playoffs and hand on heart, at no point was I at all worried. Texans, it felt like we were just biding our time. The Titans, basically we snuffed them out on the line, all gone, teeth drawn.

Then comes the big game and of course, we go down some scores and of course, we know that in the end we make the very hard look very easy and roll right over the increasingly baffled 49ers. All that season it felt like we were always within a brilliant moment of turning any game around. There was a casual brilliance to the way Mahomes played that would not be denied.

Then came the off-season, contracts, free agency, drafts, undrafted free agency and I remember how that all felt so good. Clever calculation in the back office and put up some flags because that fast-rolling, the all-conquering team was mostly back together. Mahomes had his O-Line back, the Legion of Zoom had not been demobbed, The D retained all the key pieces. Brett Veach was rightly hailed as a genius for keeping the show on the road and under the cap.

Now let me take you forward to around midnight on the 7th February 2021. For a change, I had a regular day off in the morning. I was sat at home with my son. We had beer, pizza, chips, and dips but I couldn’t get fired up for the game.

It had been a very winning season yet just a year on, the O- Line was a whispy shadow of what it was, all roads led through them to Mahomes. Mahomes himself was hurting and teams had been taking turns at working out tactics to at least slow our offense down.

The running game had barely got past a gentle jog and there had been too many niggly wins where we lunged breathlessly over the finish line rather than smoothly accelerating away from the opposition on the final bend.

Was I confident? No, not really. On the other hand, here we were again in the big one and you can’t complain about that. We know the result. Brady is really very effective if you leave him in the pocket. There is a limit to how far Mahomes can run and perhaps a very few angles that he cannot throw from. It hurt.

Now as the next season rolls towards us, it feels like the management is being judged as if last year we were a sub-par Jets team. It was a shock to lose so badly but for me, it’s still “in Veach (and the rapid healing of Patrick Mahomes) we trust”.

There’s a long way to go but I can see the structure of a great offense emerging from the gloom. I admit I did also cheer up tremendously when we did not sign promiscuous logo dancer JuJu Smith-Schuster. I smiled when we signed Kyle Long out of retirement though, I think that will be a great story.

There’s a long way to go yet before the next kick-off. We don’t have to get it all done at once but I do believe that we will get it done.